New California nursing home video camera bill proposed to combat elder abuse and neglect
We at Elder Abuse Exposed.com hope that Democratic California state senator Lois Wolk or another member of the California Legislature will accept our proposal to introduce a nursing home video camera bill like the recently enacted bipartisan Oklahoma law (Senate Bill 587), which was approved unanimously by both the Oklahoma State Senate and House of Representatives. It confirms the right of consenting, vulnerable nursing home residents to install, at their own expense, video surveillance cameras in their own private bedrooms. Our proposal also confirms the right of consenting residents in residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs), also known as assisted living facilities, to choose to have the protection that in-room video camera monitoring can provide.
In addition, our video camera proposal ensures and vigorously protects the privacy rights of those RCFE and nursing home residents who do not consent to video monitoring. In other words, only consenting residents who want to exercise their right to video monitoring in their own private bedrooms could be monitored, and residents who do not consent could never be monitored by video cameras in their bedrooms.
Sadly, while many nursing homes and RCFEs provide good care, there have been abuses and instances of very poor care, including false or misleading nursing notes to cover up abuse and poor care. Our proposed nursing home and RCFE video camera bill would serve as a strong deterrent to this abuse, poor care, and falsification of patient records. The video camera bill, which would provide for proper resident consents, video monitoring warning signs, and strict privacy safeguards, would permit facility management and residents’ family members to monitor facility staff inside rooms when no one else is watching the staff. As a result, the facility management could improve staff training, take appropriate disciplinary action, and reduce or even eliminate poor and neglectful care.
We think that a nursing home video camera law in California would make it very difficult for nursing home and RCFE operators to understaff facilities and thereby overload nursing staff to the point of making the well-meaning, caring staff hardened and desensitized to patient neglect and suffering. Equally important, video camera monitoring would deter facility staff from falsifying patient records to cover up poor care and neglect because facility administration and cooperating family members could easily verify the actual care through video camera recordings.
Please help now by signing our petition supporting a nursing home video camera bill with strict privacy safeguards
Please help us get this bill launched by taking just a minute or two to sign a petition which says simply:
Get the California government out of elderly citizens’ private bedrooms. I support a bill that would allow video camera monitoring with the proper resident consents and strict privacy safeguards, like the recently enacted bipartisan Oklahoma law, to combat elder abuse.
Please click here to sign the petition, which a growing list of prominent geriatricians and elder abuse experts (below) have already signed (as individuals and not on behalf of the entities for which they work):
- Laura Mosqueda, M.D., director of geriatrics, chair of and professor in the Department of Family Medicine, Ronald W. Reagan Endowed Chair in Geriatrics, and director of the Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine
James Spar, M.D., director of the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry Inpatient Program and professor of clinical and geriatric psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
- Robert Neshkes, M.D., chief of the geriatric psychiatry treatment unit at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center and retired clinical assistant professor of psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
- Deborah Newquist, Ph.D., M.S.W., assistant clinical professor of gerontology at the University of Southern California (USC), former director of geriatric services for international chronic care services company ResCare Inc., and founder and president of Southern California-based geriatric care management and home care company Senior Care Resources
Some of the benefits of video camera monitoring in California nursing homes and residential care facilities for the elderly
What are the benefits of video camera monitoring? One good example is a San Diego County residential care facility for the elderly (RCFE) named Vista Gardens Memory Care, in Vista, California, which was built with video cameras installed for the protection of the residents who want video monitoring. If the California Department of Social Services’ (DSS’) Community Care Licensing Division (CCLD), which regulates RCFEs, did not prohibit Vista Gardens Memory Care residents from benefiting from the safeguards of in-room video camera monitoring, then:
- If there was any question about whether a staff person misbehaved, Vista Gardens could find out if it occurred and correct it immediately.
- If, for example, a resident was found on the floor with a bruise on the head, Vista Gardens could review the video recording to see how and if the bruises occurred when the patient fell out of bed reaching for a nightstand or in some other manner.
- If the bruising was caused by a fall from reaching for a nightstand while in bed, the recording would show this, and Vista Gardens would simply move the nightstand closer to the bed.
- If the recording showed any other reason for the bruising, Vista Gardens would also be able to take corrective actions immediately and notify the appropriate authorities and individuals.
- Vista Gardens could also review the video of the resident falling to relay pertinent information to paramedics or the emergency room for treatment decisions.
- If a hallucinating resident claimed that something improper occurred (e.g., a lady claiming a naked man was in her room), Vista Gardens could review the video to ascertain that it did or did not happen.
Calif. Dept. of Social Services infringes on RCFE residents’ right to use video cameras in their private bedrooms
Unfortunately, the California DSS’ CCLD has prohibited video monitoring in the residents’ rooms at Vista Gardens Memory Care. Neither the resident, his or her family, nor Vista Gardens may have video camera monitoring in the residents’ private rooms, according to CCLD, even though residents or the residents’ health care agents have given written consent for and fervently want the video monitoring for their own protection.
DSS’ CCLD told Vista Gardens that in order to operate the video cameras, Vista Gardens had to apply for an exception request for a camera monitoring program. Although Vista Gardens applied for the exception request on July 21, 2011, Vista Gardens has predictably not received any response from DSS’ CCLD.
But the fact is that no California or federal law prohibits video cameras in consenting residents’ rooms, where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy only for the residents. The residents or their health care agents have a right to waive the privacy in a limited way for video monitoring.
Bottom line: DSS’ CCLD and the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH’s) Licensing and Certification Program, which regulates nursing homes, do not have any legal authority to prohibit video camera monitoring. But DSS’ CCLD, which we believe acts as a proxy for the California Assisted Living Association (CALA) and the California Association of Health Facilities (CAHF), unjustifiably infringes on vulnerable elderly residents’ right to use video monitoring in their own private bedrooms to protect against elder abuse and poor care.
California government (CCLD and CDPH) should not even concern itself with what private citizens do in their own private bedrooms. California government should get out of our private bedrooms.
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